Does anyone feel like they just finished the Boston Marathon? Or just finished reading The Iliad? However grueling it was for you, I hope you are all undeniably proud of yourselves for making it an entire week spending ZERO DINERO! For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, we just completed our first (yes, you heard me) week-long spending freeze challenge, as part of our Focus on Finances month. But before I recap how my spending freeze week went, I must introduce our next week-long challenge (that you probably noticed on the month calendar)…and ooooh and it's a goodie…
The “Say no to 3” Challenge!
Here's how it works (and why you should do it!):
First off, be sure to join in on the rest of our #FocusOnFinancesMonth! You can grab the calendar for the month, and jump on the party train anytime!
Now, on to this week's challenge. The “Say no to 3” challenge is fairly self-explanatory. This week, simply say no to 3 things that you want to buy, or normally spend money on! Skip, pass, say no, put it back. However you do it, just say no 3 times!
It could be as simple as putting back an item at the register at the grocery store, saying no to the cute shirt on clearance that you want but don't need, or finding an ingredient substitute for a recipe that you have at home rather than running to the store for the ingredient you're missing (…and walking out with $50 in other things…). Read more about the challenge rules below.
With the spending freeze challenge I wanted all of us to learn/prove to ourselves by experience that we don't HAVE to run to the store and spend money any time we need something. We can get resourceful, creative, use what we have, borrow, or just plain go without. And guess what?… It didn't kill a single person! (Trust me, I would've heard.)
This week I wanted to give us all a challenge that would piggy-back the last one. To help us avoid the “Wheew! The spending freeze is over, now I can go SHOPPING, baby!”, make-up-for-lost-time, Supermarket Sweep race-to-the-finish shopping spree (remember that show??).
Here are the challenge rules:
- Throughout the next week (September 11-17, or whatever 7-day window you choose), make a conscious effort to PASS on at least three expenses that week that you want – but don't HAVE to – spend money on.
- Try to push yourself! Get out of your comfort zone! Don't make it too easy! Saying “ok, I won't go to Disneyland this week” when you weren't even planning on Disneyland anyway…doesn't count. Sorry, Freebs.
- Try to grow from it and use it as a learning experience. The purpose of this challenge is not to make you suffer, and show that frugality is all about giving things up (because it's NOT!), rather it's to show us that we don't have to indulge ourselves in 100% of the things we want to buy, all the time. It's ok to say no! Sometimes it's even pretty easy!
At the end of the day it's the slow and steady, simple conscious decisions – not accidental or impulsive ones – that lead us to incredible lives; being able to do more, have more, and live more than you ever thought possible (regardless of how much money you make).
So join in this month!
Remember to post pictures of the things you're saying NO to this week. Instagram has been an incredible support group, we're having a rip-roaring time over there! Facebook has also been a great place to share ideas and make new friends. So stop on by, and be sure to use the hashtag #FocusOnFinancesMonth so we can keep track of what everyone's been up to!
Now, as for my spending freeze review…
As always, it felt good! It's incredible that by not spending money for 6 little days (as a religion, we don't spend money on Sunday anyway…) I was able to save my family a quick $350! That's our $300 grocery + “other” budget, and our date night money. $350! In 6 days! And we didn't suffer AT ALL. In fact, we had a ton of fun as a family. We took our little boat/raft thing out on a local lake we had never been to, we cooked dinner together as a family, and Bubba and I finally had our Finance Date Night – which we had been putting off for months because no one was forcing us to make it a priority (see how to hold a Money Date if you have no clue what I'm talking about).
Sure, it made life a bit more inconvenient. I really NEEDED a gas station drink at one point. It would've been more fun to go out to eat, rather than eating frozen pizza at home on Friday. And my nephew will be getting his birthday card and money a week late because I failed to plan ahead. So sure, it was a bit inconvenient.
At the end of the day, we not only didn't DIE from it…we were better off because of it.
And yes, I went to Costco as soon as our freeze was over, but that's because we had 7 families over for dinner and I ran out of buns. But I stayed within $10 of my budget then returned some things to get $40 back, to make up for it (as shown in this video).
Can I be blatantly honest for a sec?
No judgement, because we're besties right? If I'm being completely honest and open…our family doesn't need these spending freezes. I don't do them out of “necessity”. We don't have debt other than our houses (we have our old town house that is now a rental property). We are currently budgeting and living off of 50% of what we bring home each month. And no, we aren't rich (which, what does “rich” mean anyway?? But that's a post for a whole other day). We are very conservative, tight, and calculated with our money. So no, we didn't (and don't) need to do a spending freeze.
Then…why do I even try?
It makes us stronger as a family. It “cleanses” our spending habits. It sets a good example for our kids. It gives us a chunk of cash that everyone – no matter how much money you do or don't make – can use to better their lives, or the lives of others.
I talk about this in-depth in my Budget Boot Camp program, but I'll briefly emphasize it here as well. I can't stress how important it is to do spending freezes – OFTEN – when you're trying to get your finances in order especially. But even when your finances are doing well, you should do them too! When your money is flowing, is when people tend to get lazy or careless with their money and spending, and dig themselves into a hole that is hard to get out of. So maybe you don't have to do them every month, maybe every other month or every quarter. But if you were to do one per month (and you should, if you have debt or need to build up your savings!), imagine the money you would save! You could have Christmas completely paid for with just two spending freezes. 4 Freezes and there's Disneyland! 6 and there's a trip to Hawaii!! 8 and there's that giant student loan you've been trying to pay off for years! However you spin it, that money is VALUABLE and is at your fingertips.
At the end of the day, those 6 or 7 days are what can completely change your life.
I hope you enjoyed the freeze and will say no to 3 things this week as well! Remember to participate on social media with the hashtag #FocusOnFinancesMonth. I will be personally interacting, and might even be giving some fun prizes away throughout the month!
Let me know how it goes!